Every kid has asked the timeless question: “But do I have to?” My dictionary defines the verb have as something you are bound to do or compelled to carry out. Kids want to know if they have the option of getting out of the work they really don’t want to do.
Jesus had a different attitude about his “have to.” Notice this stunning example—“Now [Jesus] had to go through Samaria” (John 4:4). Ancient Israel’s map was like a three-scoop ice cream cone with Judea as the southernmost scoop, Galilee on the top, and Samaria squished in the middle. Because first-century Jews didn’t associate with Samaritans (John 4:9), they didn’t “have to” go through their land. Nor did they want to. Some Jews added extra miles to their trips in order to avoid Samaria altogether because they didn’t want to be near such sinful people. But Jesus “had to” go through that land. Why? Because he was on a mission to meet, love, and save a Samaritan woman and her neighbors (John 4:39-42).
I love that about Jesus. Don’t you? He has to go to unexpected places, like the place you are right now. He has to do unexpected things, like take time to listen to your smallest prayers and forgive your biggest sins. He has to bless unexpected people, people like you (even if your life is as messy as a Samaritan’s). Why does he have to? Because he is the Savior who is bound to his Father’s will and compelled by his unconditional love. Even better, his gracious heart wants to. He wants to bless you.